The yet unpublished: In search of original forms – seminar og relansering av Nordic Photobook Award 

Marthe Ramm Fortun, Nora Joung, Moritz Kung, Bruno Ceschel, Delphine Bedel, Susanne Hætta
Performance From 01.09.2023
Henny Lie, Kvinne med foldinger og sedimenter, fra serien Jakten på urformene/urformer, 1996. Tilhører Preus museums samling. © Henny Lie BONO 2023. Foto: Preus Museum
Henny Lie, Kvinne med foldinger og sedimenter, fra serien Jakten på urformene/urformer, 1996. Tilhører Preus museums samling. © Henny Lie BONO 2023. Foto: Preus Museum

The seminar departs from an ongoing performance series that artist Marthe Ramm Fortun started in the spring of 2019 to address the obliteration of history and the revindication of a feminist perspective onto art institutions. What power do institutions have to obliterate not only artworks but lives? What can become visible or rendered invisibilized by the printed press and the circulation of photographic material?

At the invitation of Fotogalleriet, Ramm Fortun searched the institution’s archival material amassed over five decades and partly systematized it to fit normative structures of reproductive functionality. A 180-page unpublished book by artist Henny Lie PÅ JAKT ETTER URFORMENE! (Hunting for the original forms!, 1981 [?]) became the base for rage, feminist genealogy, art that falls outside the norm, underground networks connecting New York to Oslo and Vilnius, circulation, or the lack thereof. Jonas Mekas, Diane Arbus, and the Guerilla Girls. A flash lamp is attached to the ceiling, and the laid down photographic paper lets the light capture what Henny Lie called primeval forms in photograms.

Which books will serve the future? And which books which have not been printed or will never be printed will advance such a future? Blank books, artists’ books, and photobooks write history in their invisibility more than through their visibility.

In this impossible exercise of books that have barely come to the surface, we challenge both speakers, audiences to question the need for artists’ books and photobooks today and what books need to be published and why?

The seminar will also serve for a soft launch of Photography Bound. Reimagining Photobooks and Self-publishing (Silvana Editoriale Publishing, 2022) produced in collaboration with the University of Bergen; and the relaunching of the Nordic Photobook Award.

Delphine Bedel, writer, curator and publisher, Amsterdam
Bruno Ceschel, founder of Self Publish, Be Happy, London/Milan
Susanne Hætta, artist, photographer and member of Dáiddadállu Artists’ Collective, Guovdageaidnu/Čáhcesuolu
Nora Joung, artist, writer, Oslo
Moritz Kung, independent curator, writer and publisher, Barcelona
Marthe Ramm Fortun, artist and Associate Professor at KHiO, Oslo

The Fotogalleriet Foundation and FFF thank the Italian Cultural Institute in Oslo for their generous support of the event. Fotobokfestival Oslo is organized by The Norwegian Association for Fine Art Photographers (FFF) with support from The Norwegian Photographic Fund (Nofofo), the city of Oslo, Kulturrådet, Kulturrådet, Bildende Kunstneres Hjelpefond, Bergesenstiftelsen and Fritt Ord.

FFF organizes Fotobokfestival Oslo annually to bring together local and international artists, speakers, authors, and publishers and present exhibitions, book fairs, seminars, artist talks, workshops, book launches, and satellite events.

As the first award in the Nordics dedicated to photo books, the Nordic Photobook Award (formerly the Nordic Dummy Award) was established in 2012 to present new photographic productions during an epochal shift in book production. E-book readers such as iPads and Kindles led to statements by people and experts that the book as an object would disappear. Instead, the physical book has continued and, in some genres, gained an increasingly stable presence, creating broader interest and distribution opportunities for independent publishers, artists, and alternative voices, which now more than ever deserve widespread attention.